And now, no word from our sponsor

Go to a sports stadium or arena of any kind these days and you’ll witness the profusion of advertising on what seems like every available square inch of space.

Nationals Park in Washington is no different. But most of the advertising signage at the ballpark was discreetly covered for Pope Benedict’s Mass today. The largest signs flanked the giant scoreboard in right-center field. Those were covered — mostly — by American flags (see below) nearly as large. One would have to be familiar with the logos of the Washington Post and PNC Bank to recognize them beneath the white stripes of the flags.

American flags cover the permanent advertising on the scoreboard at Nationals Park April 17 during the papal Mass. (CNS/Karen Callaway)

A so-called advertising innovation over the past decade or so involves the installation of extremely horizontal, changeable advertising message boards. The ones at Nationals Park, at least for this day, bore a new and unchanging message: “Pope Benedict XVI April 17, 2008 Washington D.C.”

Even the white script “W” logo of the Washington Nationals baseball team that appears behind home plate was mostly obscured by a coat of green paint similar to the green of the surrounding grass.

Not every ad was scrubbed. Behind the left-field stands were ads for Miller Lite beer, PNC Bank and Geico, an insurance company. And five signs on the facing of the 300-level seats weren’t obscured.

But in an advertising-saturated culture, it was an enjoyable, relatively ad-free day.

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